Dock & Flip is a tremendously practical laptop holder by Gotessons. It can be used horizontally and if preferred, flipped over into a vertical position and tucked backwards, out of the way, occupying minimal space underneath the desk. It is able to rotate 360 degrees on a runner with a push/pull rotation function for ease of use.
Sustainability has been part of Zeitraum’s ethos for the past 20 years. The Morph chair introduces an unusual combination of materials: a solid wood frame with a light, shaped wooden seat that can be upholstered. Its delicate appearance and narrow seat area helps this simple, lightweight chair take up very little space. The timber for each piece is individually selected making it exceptional in terms of colour and grain. Morph is also available as a barstool in two different heights.
Daniel and Rosemarie Bormann have again shown us how they can combine art with functionality. This free-standing sculptured bookcase, made with coloured boxes, stacked and angled to create not only an object to hold things but an attractive art piece. The bookshelf is called Untamed Chaos, although the piece is purposely chaotic and would suit any space in a home or office.
With its grey and white colour palette, acres of glass walls and ten different wallpapers, the original Dickensian-era pupils of The Boys Home Industrial School wouldn’t recognise the place. What started life as a 19th-century boys’ school chapel in north London has been transformed into a hub for popular television – now, Shine Group staff worship at a new altar: peak-time viewing figures.Before Shine moved into Primrose Hill Studios (located in the eponymous London ‘village’), its 40-plus staff were strewn across three different buildings in Notting Hill. The bosses, CEO Elizabeth Murdoch and president Alex Mahon, were keen to bring everyone – including up to 150 freelancers – under one roof, and tasked The Interiors Group with renovating the dilapidated 1871 chapel.Once The Interiors Group had smoothed over any issues between the landlord and the tenants (ie, Shine), and had got the place shipshape, they brought in Blue Bottle Design to do a number on the interiors. “It was a classic Christmas move, so there was great pressure to get it finished in time,” says Blue Bottle designer Frans Burrows. Given that Shine are purveyors of such populist entertainment as Gladiators, Master Chef and The Biggest Loser, their workplace is surprisingly restrained and tasteful.The Interiors Group and Blue Bottle have worked hard to give what is essentially a hotchpotch of extensions a sense of cohesion, and with a clever layout have got around the varying floor levels, ceiling heights and lack of light in some parts. Or as Burrows puts it: “The shapes of the buildings mean there’s no monotony.”Even the very front of the building is a big-windowed extension, so arrivals step down from the pavement into the reception area. This is a long, low space – just 2.3m high, which Blue Bottle has played with by installing a similarly long and low reception desk, with a smoked mirrored front that reflects the floor.Burrows, who is half-Swede, half-Yorkshireman, has added to the boutique hotel feel with floorboards (pale, wide, oiled oak), and an eclectic mix of furniture, from the George Smith chocolate brown sofa and big brown lamps from CTO Lighting, to the buffed vintage school chairs and rectory table. The snowy white kitchen is just a couple of steps down from the reception area, so the idea is that staff can use some of this seating to take their refreshments. The smoked mirror is repeated in the kitchen, to add to the sense of space, and the white Corian worktop and white units by Options sit upon Smith & Wareham’s pale grey porcelain tiles.The main route down into where the company’s inner workings take place leads directly from the front door, and passes some nice panels of exposed brickwork: “it wasn’t in good enough nick to expose the lot,” says Burrows. (Although the building is in the Primrose Hill Conservation Area it’s not actually a listed building.)On the right along the corridor is a screening room with a vaulted ceiling (those bricks again), and opposite there is a glass-walled meeting room. Instead of frosted glass, they’ve used the transparent stuff – Shine likes to think of itself as an open company. This would have been a dark room if it weren’t for the windows that open onto the back of the reception area and draw light in from the street outside.Beyond this is the production area, which stretches at ground-floor level along the back of the building. It’s a functional space that has been both up-lit and down-lit to compensate for its view onto a light well. Furniture here comprises a white benching system on which perch banks of black Dell monitors, while whiteboards along one wall can slide in front of shelving and double as doors.A feature staircase leads up to the first floor, which was once upon a time a skylit assembly hall, complete with stage. That stage has now been commandeered by the CEO, president and their support staff, all of whom are partially obscured from the legal and finance teams in the ‘hall’ by a shelving unit.“Originally, Shine wanted to have more offices in the assembly hall, but we placed the offices in the wings to retain the sense of openness on the main floor,” says Burrows.“We wanted to expose the beams but they weren’t in good enough condition, so we painted them grey,” he adds. There is, however, a pleasing triptych of blasted-brick arches at the back, and one of the side offices boasts the original stone marking the building’s respective founding and erection (AD MDCCCLVIII and AD MDCCCLXXI – 1858 and 1871). Before the front extension, this wall would have faced onto the street. The bosses’ patterned wallpaper (hand-painted weeping willows by Korean artist Young Kim for Murdoch) can be spied from the back of the room through the glass doors.This first floor also houses another, smaller kitchen area, an out-of-bounds executive shower room for the two chiefs, five more executive offices and the drama team.Towards the back of the building is the original staircase, now complete with grab rails, making it DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant. That taken care of, Burrows could put his creative energies into the feature staircase, a bespoke affair from Midas with glazed balustrade.While the lasting impression is of white walls and units, grey paintwork and flooring and timber, there are splashes of colour – most of which is saved for the loos. The multiple wallpapers, Burrows explains, were about “making it a bit boutiquey and residential,” adding that the way people react to them can be quite striking: “The wallpaper is a love and hate thing and I like that reaction.”But overall, there is little that visitors or employees could take umbrage with at Primrose Hill Studios. It’s a pleasing space with a good atmosphere, and long may it shine on.
Pullpo is a production centre, design agency and photography studio with offices in Argentina and Chile, designing ads for the likes of Pepe and Lee jeans, and an umbrella company to sites such as cooltrends.com, a fashion advertising site in Spanish. The starting point for its new Chile office was the abandoned facilities of a salt factory, in the western sector of Santiago. This cavernous industrial site was converted by architect Hania Stambuk into a moody and atmospheric workspace from which the agency could operate, and the project went on to win last year’s Bienal de Arquitectura prize.Because Pullpo is a mixed agency, the space had to be designed to accommodate a number of purposes, and the finished project includes offices, conference rooms, photographic studios, service and storage areas, a cafeteria, restrooms, and incorporated parking.Pullpo occupies all of the factory, although not all areas received as much architectural intervention – “they were adapted and restored as warehouses, lavatories etc,” says Stambuk.The project was kept low cost and effective, Stambuk goes on to explain, through architectural strategies that involved harnessing the new architecture to the perimeter wall of the factory shed.A number of interrelated units are arranged to host the agency’s activities, which can range from photographing fashion to wild animals and vehicles. These units are structurally joined by braided steel cables anchored on to the existing factory trusses.“This system allowed the maximum structural capacity within the host building,” Stambuk explains. It creates an interesting juxtaposition, and allows both the old and new to co-exist alongside one another. Each of the ‘cells’ within the larger building space was conceived of as a “small citadel” by Stambuk. In each cell, different functions in the creative process are carried out, creating a linear “assembly line of ideas,” she explains.The units allow services such as light, temperature and ventilation to be localised. The controlled atmosphere within the separate units ensures a comfortable work environment within the greater pre-existing container structure, which would be difficult to regulate as a whole.“The site had to be a large structure to contain the different demands and situations of an advertising agency,” says Stambuk. “Due to its size the factory was perfect for the development of this type of programme. “I don’t necessarily prefer to work with converted spaces; this was a challenge that came up and I approached it with the same professionalism as any other brief. However, it brought everything to the project. This is seen in the way the structure of the new building hangs from the structure of the old.”Stambuk explains that the concept behind the industrial build was of one huge model construction kit, like Meccano – a prefabricated system based on low cost, serial modulation.The materials were chosen for quick assembly and consisted of steel, glass and Isopol panels. Made out of prefabricated polyurethane sheets wrapped in tin, the panels were developed for industrial use in refrigeration chambers for meat storage. They have great thermal capacity, and they were also chosen for their rigidity, versatility and low weight, allowing them to be easily transported to the factory. “The project can be disassembled and relocated since the dimensions and constructive system are designed for this purpose,” Stambuk explains.Examples of Pullpo’s visual work form an integral part of the project, and add to the surrealist feel of the space, as do the plants and trees planted inside the old factory. “I suggested the size and placement of the Pullpo photography so that the glass surround spaces would appear as large aquariums, so it looks like there are octopuses swimming in enclosures next to people passing by,” Stambuk explains.The lighting has been kept bare and basic to complement the industrial aesthetic, as does the steel cabling that supports the structures, and the bare strip-lights over the car park.Stambuk describes the project as architecture reinvented as advertising metaphor, where astonishment and fiction rival reality. Although she has worked on projects like this before, she says: “I was younger and not as daring. Now, I endeavour to build what I imagine.”
The new Linjé Toolbar and Toolbar Screen by Gotessons are made from solid homogeneous aluminium. The posts are available with a clamp or desk mount, the screen is sound absorbent and is offered in a variety of colours. Multi screens are also available for up to ten monitors. Gotessons has over 40 accessories for the Toolbar Screen which help to create more desk space.
When traditional industries fall into decline this sometimes heralds the end of prosperity. Mid Wales can count itself lucky that alternative sectors are being supported.As Nick Capaldi, chief executive of the Arts Council of Wales, says, “The creative industries are big business in Wales. I’m convinced that it is creativity that will pull us out of the recession.”In fact, according to Creative and Cultural Skills in Wales, total employment in the creative industries is over 24,000, an increase of nine per cent between 2006 and 2008.Some of this activity is being supported by Aberystwyth University, in particular by its Arts Centre, which is the biggest in Wales.The Arts Centre is thriving and buzzing with activity, but much of the art is transient - temporary installations and performances. The centre’s director, Alan Hewson, is keen to capitalise on the buzz and promote continuity: “We wanted to link with the community and to grow a cultural cluster in Aberystwyth.” Hey presto, a new row of work units to appeal to these creative types, sitting in grassland just above the arts centre.Designed by Heatherwick Studio they are intended to make the most of the setting and the £1.1m budget. “Alan (Hewson) wanted low-cost and special,” says Thomas Heatherwick. His solution was to structure the buildings to make them relatively cheap, and to hunt down a fancy cladding to make them special.So rather than building a single tall block, the 16 units are housed in eight 80sq m bungalows, meaning there was no need for costly disabled access to the upper floors. And rather than a conventional skin, this one is metallic and crinkly. “Stainless steel is brilliant because it lasts forever, but we couldn’t afford it,” says Heatherwick. “Then we found a rolling mill in Finland which rolled it just 0.1mm thick, the thickness of a coke can.” That meant that they could secure all the metal cladding for just over £20,000.Back in Heatherwick’s London studio, designer Tom Chapman-Andrews worked on building a machine that would create a natural ‘crinkled’ quality in the stainless steel. That machine was then installed on site, and could ‘crinkle’ the 100m-long rolls of 1m-wide strips, which were used whole on the buildings.The idea is that the series of little waves down the roofs and sides of the buildings reflect everything around them, from the sky to the leaves on the trees. “When you get the reflection with the leaves, the units sort of vanish,” says Heatherwick, “and they grab all the light and the colours of the sky and throw them back.” And the leaves will be more present once the 100 saplings which have just been planted grow.To insulate them, the steel cladding was sprayed inside with the same CFC-free liquid foam used to insulate pigsties.Inside, these units are a simple, white-washed affair. As Heatherwick points out, “Our role was to make a simple, flexible space. When we were designing, we didn’t have a brief for who the tenants would be.”But what each occupant does have is plenty of light from the windows and skylights, a long narrow workspace, sink and shared WC.For some tenants, this is luxury indeed compared with their previous set-ups. Perhaps the most high-profile is the painter Mary Lloyd Jones, who before this, was working out of a basement. “In the summer, sometimes the natural light was OK. But it was a bit dusty,” she says.The benefits of being here is the light, she adds, “and the distance from the back to the front wall, because to consider a composition you have to be able to step back”.Her studio is full of her large canvasses, just as textile designer Becky Knight has pinned her wall hangings on the walls of her space. She too was in a basement, which she shared with mice. “Here, I can be more organised and professional about my work and enjoy coming to the studio rather than fighting against the space,” she says. Along one wall on shelving, boxes of colour co-ordinated fabrics are stacked; they are no longer being eaten by rodents.Both Lloyd Jones’s and Knight’s studios are bedecked with the tools of their trades - pots of paintbrushes standing on a desk sourced from a theological college in one, and a sewing machine in the other.Some of the other businesses based here are more conventionally office-like, such as Honno, the women’s publishing cooperative, the Arts Agency (which has taken a double space), and Pixel Foundry.The latter is a TV and video production company, which was formerly run from a forestry commission shed that had been an Italian prisoner of war camp. “It was very cold,” says Pixel Foundry founder Pete Telfer. Their new space is decked out with contemporary blond shelving, grey carpet and red fabric armchairs. And unlike the artists, they have put blinds up at the windows, for the sake of their computer screens.For social enterprise Phoenix Cymru, this is the first time they’ve had a space to call their own. “It’s been a real revelation to have somewhere to call home,” says Mark Giddens. The enterprise records promos for local bands, hence the home-made sound absorbers on the wall, and the rolled-up duvet in the sink. “When the rooms are empty they have a lot of echo,” says Giddens. The plan now is to build a booth to isolate drummers.The units were completed before Christmas and all are now occupied. While tenants appreciate the benefits of their new location, it’s early days for any cross-fertilisation, but as Lloyd Jones says: “There are people with different skills here and that makes it interesting.”And perhaps if phase two - a communal meeting house - gets the go-ahead, such exchanges of creative ideas will be even more likely. However, given that these units took three and a half years from design to completion, and six years from when the arts centre started planning, these tenants shouldn’t hold their breath.
Google gave us the office slide, Red Bull introduced the chute, now Electric Works digital media centre in Sheffield has stolen their thunder with a thirty metre helter-skelter, upping the ante on fun in design.Travelling three twists and turns from the third storey to the ground floor in seven seconds, this installation is about far more than visual effect. Stepping out of the sack post-slide staff are slightly disorientated and pumped with an adrenaline release they wouldn’t get from travelling by lift – a method of travel that is still an option should they need to travel with paraphernalia that is impossible to clutch in the recommended arms across the chest position.There is something impressively aesthetic about the huge steel structure, it is highly reminiscent of Carsten Höller’s slide exhibit at Tate Modern 2007, and was installed by the same engineers. In the context of the Tate Turbine Hall Höller surmised the experience of sliding in a phrase by French writer Roger Caillois, as a “voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind.” “It was a turn of fate that the building had a three floor atrium in the reception,” Toby Hyam, the managing director of Manchester-based Creative Space Management recounts. And there is a traditional twist to the story: “Industrial cities at the end of the 19th century had a touring fair culture with an architectural mix of entertainment providing exciting sensations through carousels and rides as a diversion from industrial or rural life.”Having worked on the revamp of Huddersfield Media Centre and the set up of Round Foundry Media Centre in Leeds, Hyam speaks from experience when it comes to pulling shared creative business spaces together. He knows how important it is to give them the right dosage of identity, to make them stand out in a client’s mind without trampling on the toes of the brands that hope to establish themselves in the space.“Electric Works is not an incubator centre,” he insists, “it is a step up from that, it caters for companies on the verge of going global.” The build is designed to facilitate all the collaborative and crossover benefits that come from like-minded businesses sharing a space. It is the result of a collaboration between South Yorkshire’s RDA, Sheffield City Council and private sector investment. Although the city council have decided to buy the building, Electric Works operates “a corporate approach to asset management, to secure the best return on investment,” says Hyam.Dive, the interior architects on the project designed the club, or conference area to accommodate major names and clients, “without feeling apologetic that you are not based in Hoxton Square or Soho.” It is fitted out with verdant green carpet, rather like astroturf, and Vitra furniture. Bouroullec Alcove Highback Sofas create cosy enclosures, and sound absorbing wall panels giving the space a contemporary character. “We wanted to create a club area, with social meeting space that felt natural and fresh,” explains Andy Nettleton, the English counterpart of half-Swedish, half-English duo, Dive. For set subscription fees members can access meeting rooms, IT networks, showers, rent lockers, recharge their laptop, make use the 150-seater conference centre, hold a mini trade fair, and, on a more personal note, have their post bought to their desk. Hyam describes the club area as stepping up from what Starbucks has done for the freelancing community. Entering into 24-hour work culture, this area has round the clock access, members can let themselves and business partners or clients in for meetings in the evening, or any time of night and the building is only a five-minute cab ride away from Sheffield’s city centre.The bespoke, cubic reception desk by Dive has an ‘easy to lock down’ setting, as does the slide, to overcome health, safety and theft risk, and the high spec surroundings makes raucous behaviour unlikely.Upstairs unfurnished open-plan office spaces in variable sizes with suspended ceilings, power access points, brightly painted kitchen points and carpet tiles to meet the grade A office spec await business arrivals.The centre also acts as a Vitra distribution point, a more than gentle push in the right direction to get the place fitted out in designer gear through and through. The George Nelson Marshmallow sofa and other designer classics positioned around the project make it an exemplar for contemporary style.Dive used large planes of colour to create impact and break up the otherwise speculative open plan office floor, splitting the space into smaller, varied units and creating a corridor through them with an irregular, “more meandering route” to prevent the floor becoming “a repetitive thing”, Nettleton explains. Sheaf Street, where the glass encased digital campus sits, opposite the main train station, adjacent to Sheffield Hallam University and down the road from the Cultural Industries Quarter, used to be pretty derelict. “It was an area renowned for boxing, and for being a bit of a dive before the centre came along,” Hymen says. The whole thing may feel a touch prescriptive – businesses can see the space, and be set up and running there within days – but it seems to be a good medicine. Flexible, feel good space, above average in rent but with a good measure of added value to merit it. “Plus, no-one is tied in for more than a month and there is the potential to expand or contract a business in a matter of days,” Hyam points out, which is surely an asset in this climate. As is being iconoclastic. “Having the slide, a unique interactive and stimulating installation in the UK really counts.”Hyam resists the idea that the fairground will become a trademark of the firm: “We want each project to relate on an individual basis to its location, and the people that use it. Of course, we’ll be on the lookout for new ideas and architects for enlivening the workplace.”
Betaunopuntozero is an innovative office system created to embrace new ways of working. Betaunopuntozero is not only a product but a self-sufficient work environment, independent from building constraints and contaminated by domestic elements, which has been designed around those who work. The office system is capable of growing or adapting to evolving teams or individual needs and can be updated to future technological standards. Described as the “evolutive office” the Beta range embraces the concept of making the working space an emotional and social space: a place to live and not only to work.